1. Don't Be Demanding - Remember planners are only going to book speakers who they like, this is pretty basic but true, if you're too demanding and they don't like you or they don't feel there's a connection they won't hire you. So don't be so demanding that you've talked yourself right out of a great opportunity. Be willing to work with them in negotiating your requests and be easy to work with. Remember the meeting industry is well networked and word of mouth travels fast.

2. Don't Put Them on Hold - Big mistake, if you have set up a phone meeting with a planner make sure you give them your undivided attention! Nothing bothers a busy planner more then when you have just put them on hold to answer another call. Turn your voicemail on, turn off the TV/radio or any background noise, put the dog outside, a sign on the door, etc . . . no distractions.

3. Not Prepared for Phone Meeting - Out of the blue you get an email or letter from a planner who wants to set up a phone interview. Do you know what this phone interview is for? Yes, to hear you . . . to get a 'feel' for who you are . . . to see if there is a connection. When you get on the phone for goodness sakes make sure you're prepared, I can't stress this enough, you have to realize this initial phone call is not something to brush off, take it seriously because it can make or break a very important booking for you and any additional chances with this meeting planner . . . be the professional that you are and make a good first impression!

4. Lack of Confidence - Speak with confidence; let the planner know you are the best fit for this event. Firmly state what you can do for their audience and what the end results will be, how you will solve their problem or make them feel. All speakers must speak with confidence as this represents you as being a professional and an expert in your field. If you cannot speak with confidence to a meeting planner they will feel you will not speak effectively in front of their audience. Example: Don't use the words, "I don't know", or "Uh, I'm not sure" or "Um", etc. in other words don't stutter over your words or what your trying to relay to the planner . . . once again be prepared and have notes in front of you if this will help.

5. Don't Send Them on an Goose Chase -- If a planner asks for your web address make sure your prepared to have all the necessary information easily accessible on your site for the planner to review, if you don't I wouldn't bother sending them there as it certainly can be frustrating for them when they can't find the information they seek on your site. If you do not have a page specifically set up for planners I would think about adding one to your site, it doesn't have to be fancy, but just a simple and easy to navigate page with all the information they will need. Not sure what to add to your planner page? Anything that you would send a planner through the mail can be added to this page. If you're unsure of what goes into a meeting planner page please let me know.

6. Don't Be Late - Please don't be late as this will definitely not get you any re-bookings with the planner. Come early, mingle a bit with the audience (they really like when speakers make the extra effort to do this) also take the time to mingle after the event, not only will the planner love that you have stayed to answer questions but it also opens doors of opportunity for you with the audience members. Remember to plan for back up in all areas such as travel, contingency speaker, etc. and be prepared for anything that could possibly go wrong!

7. Promoting Your Products -- Do not promote your products while giving a presentation unless you first get permission to do so. You want to work this out with the planner during your negotiating period and before they hire you. Do not misunderstand them and simply ask if it is okay for you to promote or mention your product/service towards the end of the presentation. If you don't know be sure and ask don't just assume as this can damage your chances of being re-booked.

8. Slow Response -- Slow responses can end up in no bookings. Be quick to respond to any planner or speaking lead that you get. Typically a speaking lead can go out and be booked within a couple of days, if one speaker is quicker to respond then another and they both have made that "connection" with the planner then more times then not the planner will book the speaker who responds to them quickly. If you have access to your email during the day I would make it a point to check it at least twice a day so you can try and respond the SAME day.

9. Ambiguous contract -- Make sure you present a clear and concise contract. You don't have to make it 10 pages long, just a simple contract that is complete and clearly states times, dates, rates, contact information, cancellations, etc.

10. Unscrupulous Business Practices -- Work with integrity and always deliver what you promised, this goes even for a meeting, if you have set up a meeting be 5 minutes early, if you promised the meeting planner handouts for the audience have them sent to the planner ahead of time, if you agreed no platform selling don't try and sneak a sell into your presentation . . . believe me it won't go unnoticed. Just be honest and do what you promised . . . remember once again word of mouth travels fast especially in the meeting industry. These are just a few tips on working with meeting planners.

I feel the most important thing to remember is to make an immediate connection with the planner and make them feel at ease and confident that you will be the perfect speaker for their audience, respond to them quickly, work with integrity and be easy to work with.

© 2002 Charli Jane Speaker Services

Author's Bio: 


Wendi J McNeill, "Opening Doors of Opportunity for Public Speakers," continues to work hand-in-hand with beginning public speakers and is the author of “14 Ways to Make Money When Speaking for Free”. To learn more about this free report and sign up for more FREE public speaking tips visit her online.